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Public Statements

Letter To The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, U.S. Department Of Agriculture

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today announced joining with a bipartisan group of sixteen U.S. Senators to urge Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to authorize the purchase of one million tons of surplus apples from farmers all over the country. The USDA's purchase of these excess apples also provides a healthy, nutritious supplement to the school lunches of thousands of children nationwide. The letter urges Secretary Vilsack to act before the harvest season occurs in Mid-June of this year, exercising USDA's authority to purchase excess inventory from farmers in order to provide supply for federal school lunch and domestic food programs.

Last year, Michigan was the nation's 3rd largest producer of apples, growing 540 million pounds. The economic crisis has caused a drop in consumer spending in many industries all across the country, resulting in the accumulation of large inventories of apples, and threatening the livelihoods of thousands of farmers and farming communities. The apple industry currently accounts for $2 billion of economic activity nationwide.

Full text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Vilsack:

We are writing to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase at least one million boxes of fresh apples for domestic food programs using your authority over Section 32 funds.

The ongoing economic downturn has led to record inventories of fresh apples and large excess inventories of processed apples. As of April 1, fresh apple holdings are 33 percent above last year's holdings and 29 percent above the five-year average. Without a significant purchase to lower excess inventories before the mid-July harvest season, the $2 billion U.S. apple industry and the communities supported by apple production are likely to experience serious, long-term economic harm.

Apples are a welcome commodity in domestic nutrition programs, such as the National School Lunch Program and are well-received by school children and other federal feeding program recipients. Recent research has linked apples to an impressive range of health benefits including weight loss, brain health, cancer prevention, and lung and heart health.

The U.S. Apple industry has not requested a "bonus buy" since 2003 and is only doing so now in order to prevent serious damage to an otherwise healthy industry that supports more than 7,500 growers and processors in 36 states.

Thank you for considering this request. Please keep us informed of the Department's efforts to support U.S. apple producers. We look forward to working with you on this matter.

Sincerely,

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)
Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI)
Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA)
Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID)
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Sen. George Voinovich (R-OH)
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)


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